Mother’s Day—Now Back to Work
legislation aimed at working moms could undo protections against
working harder and longer than ever. Your kids demand your
attention. Your household suffers from benign neglect.
If only you had some time flexibility, you could get that
leaking toilet fixed. You could take your son to the dentist
and talk with your daughter’s teacher. You could visit your
Not to worry. The Republicans—famous for their support of
labor and family-friendly policies—have come up with a solution.
It’s called the “Family Time Flexibility Act,” and the House
leadership, seeking to woo women voters, has promised to pass
it by Mother’s Day as a gift to America’s working women.
You can almost hear Republican operatives laughing behind
closed doors. “These women workers—they’re so exhausted from
doing two jobs—one at work and one at home—they’ll never realize
what we’re doing; they’ll jump at anything that promises more
And they’re probably right. Most of us crave flexible work
hours. “I used to work for a company that gave ‘comp’ time
when I worked overtime, and I loved it,” says Laurel Eby of
San Jose, Calif.
But most of us don’t realize that this bill, with its seductive
illusion of flexibility, would end one of the fundamental
rights enacted by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938—a 40-hour
workweek and time-and-a half pay for overtime.
Under the Family Time Flexibility Act, an employer can decide
to reimburse you for overtime with compensatory time, rather
than with pay.
So, if you work eight extra hours, your boss can give you
12 hours of comp time—which you can use or cash out sometime
in the next 13 months, at the employer’s convenience.
So what’s wrong with such flexibility?
Plenty. “This bill,” says John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO,
“is about giving more flexibility to employers—not employees.”
Employers, in short, get to decide when you work overtime
and when you get to use your banked time. Jan Howe, a union
member in San Ramon, Calif. agrees with Sweeney. She’s “seen
how nasty my employer can be in intimidating my coworkers
to work overtime.”
The Economic Policy Institute—a labor-supported think-tank—opposes
the legislation because many low-wage, hourly workers simply
cannot live without the extra money they earn working overtime.
They also fear employers will discriminate against employees
who insist on overtime pay rather than comp time. For these
low-wage workers, says Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), the
result will be “less time for their families and less income
to support those families.”
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who voted against the bill,
says that “employees are in effect being asked to give a no-interest
loan to their employer.” If a company goes belly up—which
happened to more than 500,000 businesses last year—you might
have banked a month of comp time, but you may never get it.
Arlie Hochschild, professor of sociology at the University
of California- Berkeley, and author of The Second Shift
and The Time Bind, views this legislation as “a
fig leaf covering corporate interests.” The boss, she says,
“will have more incentive to increase overtime, and the worker
will get an IOU.”
Not surprisingly, those who support the legislation include
the National Association of Manufacturers and other business
groups who stand to gain greater flexibility and profit from
the bill’s passage.
With so many mothers in the workforce, balancing work and
family life has clearly emerged as the labor dilemma of the
21st century. Flexible schedules are already available, if
employers want to offer them. But only 28.8 percent of workers
have the choice to vary their work hours.
Congress, moreover, could increase the minimum wage, limit
mandatory overtime, provide paid family leave, encourage flex-time
and shorten the standard workweek—all of which would help
workers achieve a saner balance between their work and family
Meanwhile, Ellen Bravo, Director of 9-5, the National Association
of Working Women, reminds us that the whole point of the 40-hour
workweek was to make it more difficult for employers to force
workers to take extra time away from their families.
So don’t be fooled by this Republican-led effort to end the
40-hour workweek, warn critics like Bravo, or you’ll wind
up working more and earning less.
article originally ran in the San
to You by Your Enemies
United States hires pro-Israel
Christian extremists to produce news for Iraq
Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
U.S. government this week launched its Arabic-language satellite
TV news station for mostly Muslim Iraq. It is being produced
in a studio—Grace Digital Media—controlled by fundamentalist
Christians who are rabidly pro-Israel. That’s grace as in
“by the grace of God.”
Grace Digital Media is controlled by a fundamentalist Christian
millionaire, Cheryl Reagan, who last year wrested control
of Federal News Service, a transcription news service, from
its former owner, Cortes Randell. Randell says he met Reagan
at a prayer meeting and brought her in as an investor in Federal
News Service, and then she forced him out of his own company.
Grace Digital Media and Federal News Service are housed in
a downtown Washington, D.C., office building along with Grace
News Network. When you call the number for Grace News Network,
you get a person answering, “Grace Digital Media/Federal News
Service.” According to its Web site, Grace News Network is
“dedicated to transmitting the evidence of God’s presence
in the world today.”
News Network will be reporting the current secular news, along
with aggressive proclamations that will ‘change the news’
to reflect the Kingdom of God and its purposes,” GNN proclaims.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. government agency
producing the television news broadcasts for Iraq, likes to
say it is the BBC of the USA. BBG runs Radio Free Europe,
Voice of America, and Radio Sawa—Arabic-language radio for
the Middle East.
mission is clear,” BBG’s Joan Mower told us. “To broadcast
accurate and objective news about the United States and the
world. We don’t do propaganda, leafleting—we are like the
BBC in that respect.”
Well, then, why hook up with Grace?
BBG’s Joan Mower said that Grace Digital Media is a mainstream
production house used by all kinds of mainstream news organizations.
will have nothing to do with the editorial side of the news
broadcast,” she said. “They are renting us equipment, space,
studio. The Grace personnel we use include technicians, production
people, but no editorial people.”
But Mower said she couldn’t get us a copy of the contract
between BBG and Grace Digital Media. Nor could she say how
Grace Digital was chosen as the production studio.
Grace News Network proclaims that it will be a “unique tool
in the Lord’s ministry plan for the world,” according to the
company’s mission statement. “Grace News Network provides
networking links and portals to various ministries and news
services that will be of benefit to every Christian believer
and seeker of truth.”
The CEO of Grace News Network is Thorne Auchter—the same Thorne
Auchter who began the dismantling of the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA) under Presidents Reagan and
George H.W. Bush. Auchter did not return our calls seeking
comment for this story.
While it’s unclear whether Grace News Network actually produces
any news, it has produced a documentary movie titled Israel:
Divine Destiny, which it showed at the National Press
Club in September 2002. The film is about “Israel’s destiny
and the United States’ role in that destiny,” according to
Grace News Network.
Grace News said that it could not make a copy of the film
available to us at this time, since it is now undergoing postproduction
editing. Nor could it provide a transcript.
The mainstream media have documented strong and growing ties
between right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalists and
right-wing Sharonist Israeli expansionists. This alliance
is personified in Ralph Reed’s Stand Up for Israel, a group
formed to “mobilize Christians and other people of faith to
support the State of Israel.”
President Bush has very strong ties to fundamentalist Christians,
most notably Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham.
Last week, Franklin Graham delivered a Good Friday message
at the Pentagon, despite an uproar over his previous slander
of Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.”
Don Wagner, a professor of religion and director of the Center
for Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University, an evangelical
Christian college in Chicago, has written extensively about
what he calls Christian Zionism, whose leaders he identifies
as, among others, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson,
Gary Bauer, and Franklin Graham.
Zionists have historically pointed to Genesis 12:3-96—I will
bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you, I will
curse,” Dr.Wagner said. “They have interpreted this to mean
that individuals and nations who support the state of Israel
will be blessed by God. It has come to mean political, economic
and moral support, often uncritically rendered to the state
Grace News Network seems to fit the mold.
Joan Mower says that BBG is currently producing and transmitting
six hours of news into Iraq, including a dubbed version of
the daily evening news from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS, plus
three hours of original news programming from BBG.
BBG says it sees no problem in having Grace produce the evening
news broadcast for Iraq.
We called Grace Digital Media to speak with Cheryl Reagan.
Her secretary told us that she has been away in extended vacation
for more than a month—in Israel.
When will she back? we asked. No one knows, the secretary
Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate
Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington,
D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors
of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the
Attack on Democracy (Common Courage Press).
Don’t Need No Education Cuts
of teachers, students, school administrators, parents and
education advocates descended upon the Empire State Plaza
on Saturday (May 3) to protest Gov. George E. Pataki’s proposed
budget cuts to education. “If you can read this your school
had money” and “Kids Not Cuts” were what a few of the many
signs read. Protestors waved banners and chanted and cheered
as many speakers took to the stage.
One highlight from the rally was when Sex and the City
star Cynthia Nixon got up and spoke to the crowd, emphasizing
the importance of public education.
am a New York City school graduate,” yelled Nixon, “and I
am the proud parent of a child that attends New York City
schools.” She applauded the New York state Legislature for
restoring $700 million in state education funding for this
Many others in the crowd also showed support for the Legislature
by carrying signs that read “Thanks Shelly and Joe.” Organizers
of the event estimated that attendance was somewhere close
to 40,000, a number that stood in stark contrast to the 15,000
reported by the state police.